Wednesday, April 15, 2009

palestine/israel - meanderings

what a trip this has been...midway into my trip n my head is swimming. didn't think i'd ever realise this one big dream i had. ever since the seeds of peace camp last year, i'd been aching to see for myself n understand the situation on the ground as it were...we had spent 3weeks discussing, arguing, crying over the conflict journey here started as nastily as my worst fears...el al security went thru me n my baggage with the finest tooth comb...i just made it in time for the flight! i guess, travelling single with a videocam, big still cam n one instant cam with just an invitation letter wasn't enough :( they almost didn't let me carry my cams as cabin which time i said i'd go home!...
mercifully, at tel aviv on arrival it was smooth...tho they tell me leaving will be another ordeal. but screw all that i am in haifa, by the mediteranean sea...up on the hill!...its so quiet...not long ago, missiles rained in from lebanon.
before i got here, while i was reading up in bombay n seeing films...the two nation solution seemed most appropropriate...but now, after going around in jerusalem, ramallah, bethlehem n now haifa...n seeing how enmeshed, intertwined our past was, i think it is going to be v v difficult to try n divide, to demarcate n live...
the way forward seems to me to look at things that unite us, make us similar not things that divide us n polarise us...but obviously, easier said than done :(i mean, everywhere i go, places of worship are adjacent to each other n were historically looked after by all the communities does one divide a city like jerusalem? prophet samuel's tomb there are 3 separate enclosures under lock n key for devotees to pray! madness!!
how can you have a country that is divided in two parts separated by another country? will we ever be able to live as one? all religions supposedly profess.
at the end of the day, it is all about power...mighty dynasties and rulers have risen n has done unspeakable unimaginable things to man...we know it n are horrified by it but we're unable to stop ourselves in the present. the wheel continues to be in spin...the present now will later be past...while we try to do our lil bit for history...the museum of the holocaust was the toughest so far...the closest i had been before this was alain resnais' "night and fog" blood curdled then, silencing me for a long time...but to see it all for real depressed me no end...the museum itself, designed to make it experiential...not allow you to forget, quite like resnais.
dates and events are of utmost importance to everything here...not as casual as my history class back in school. every conversation is marked by an event n the date it took place...2000yrs ago or 1948 or 1967 or 2002...with so much living in the past, i cannot imagine how we will even begin to look at how we want to live in the future.
there was a hymn we used to energetically sing in church when i was at school...
"i rejoiced when i heard them saying
let's go to the temple of the lord
and now, at last our feet are standing
within your gates, o jerusalem.

jerusalem, o mighty city
so strongly bulit
one united as_____
it is here where the tribes now gather
all the tribes to worship the lord

there are those who have eyes
but refuse to see
the inhumanity to men
there are those who have ears
but refuse to hear
cries of men in agony"

i suprised myself!...i sang it in my head after over 25years!!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


apricot blossoms! n
one day v woke up, pointed to the "rock" 2000ft above n said let's go there
pfunsook...THE place to hang out with v and r by the beas...the best roasties ever!
the view from my window :)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

shimla kalka train shoot

my first time to shimla...for a docu film shoot on the hilltrain for the bbc...flew into chandigarh for the first time...this obviously wasn't parts that corbusier designed...from here, a long car drive to shimla 4hrours away from nothing in the middle of nowhere...rises this monstrously huge mall but at kalka, the last of the plains...the beginning of the rail line. over a hundred years ago, this was the angrez getaway from the heat n dust...mighty deodhar groves stand tall against the otherwise denuded mountain sides...hadn't expected to see so much bare brown :(
i don't know, if any of you remember solan number 1...the most visible whiskey when i was growing up...imagine, i didn't even know solan was a place!!, much excitement happened as i passed the brewery :)the timing was sun down, i had almost reached shimla...but nothing could prepare me for the shock the first morning when i drew the curtains...

off to palestine and israel!

come tuesday night n i go off to palestine n israel...cannot believe it is actually happening...eversince that wonderful month in maine at the seeds of peace camp, i've been totally inspired to want to extend my current work to the area of conflict resolution. i'd been proposing digital photography workshops for kids from both sides - india, pak...palestine, israel on the theme of self-portraits and identity and using it to help better understand self and the "other".
out of the blue, one day i get this email, asking me to do a 3day workshop in ramallah for a group of palestinian educators to introduce them to the wonderful medium of film, to help them use it for educational purposes...
i jumped to the idea...and immediately got down working on it...the visa was the first hurdle...rude rude guys at the consulate. kept my calm, answered the questions that were being barked thru bulletproof glass...they agreed to give me a visa n i left...but the tone stayed with me...
several nights later, while in shimla, i had this elaborate long dream about a mossad agent coming to my bedside at 10 to 4 in the morning and interrogating me about my reasons for wanting to go to israel...i remembered his face from the fuzzy silhouette n even went later to the israeli consulate to complain about him! :)
the nice part is that by now, i have friends in all these places i want to visit - bethlehem, nazareth, jerusalem, jenin, nablus, etc... i have 10days to trip around after the workshop...the hardest part is deciding whether it is prudent or plain stupid to carry my video camera...yes no yes no...i guess, i'll just take it...and my laptop n still cam...phew!
meanwhile, i've been reading, watching films, etc...quite small i feel...n will i really be able to do something meaningful....

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

anurag rules!

...just back from watching gulal for the second time in two weeks...he is easily the most exciting, biggest risk-taking director in recent times...if dev d was scorching for turning devdas on its head, gulal spiralled brilliantly out of control in the seeming pursuit for power...enough has been written about the man, his passion, his contemporary story-telling...but what i stay with after watching the two films, is a man saved from the brink of self-destruction by these two films (back to back)...manic n possessed, his anger seething from every frame...and above it all - love...or rather, unrequited love...which drives him to utter n complete destruction...
piyush mishra...what a revelation!...and to think he lives in the same building! superlative performance crowns excellent music n lyrics (so what if i didn't get all of it) d too, the music was brilliant...and rekha bharadwaj - just wah wah!
both films wonderfully shot by rajeev ravi - the way he interprets the spaces the characters inhabit most refreshing...paharganj, rajasthan...guess it must all come from anurag's lived experiences...the intimate details all adding up to the multi-layering of both these films...
intelligent, in-your-face, raw n him or hate, you just cannot ignore him...he's certainly scaling the peaks for this generation of filmmakers (ok i'll stop now :)